As part of my interest in the way a person’s psychology affects their intellectual, philosophical, principled, moral beliefs, I’ve also been interested in worldviews or belief-systems or overall perspectives. Or, in Wilfred Sellars definition (of philosophy): “how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term.” In a recent book by Eugene Webb, “Worldview and Mind,” he quotes Marcus Borg’s definition of worldview: “a culture or religion’s taken-for-granted understanding of reality – a root image of what is real and thus of how to live” (pp 19-20 in Borg’s “The God We Never Knew).
Mostly, philosophical writing uses abstract concepts, but I think it often neglects offering concrete examples that illustrate the concepts. And I think that often this aversion or neglect of offering concrete examples is due to a fear that when one starts going into detail about what one is talking about the problems and anomalies will show themselves. It safer and more comfortable to speak abstractly.
Regarding worldviews, I wondered if I could describe one. So I chose the Christian worldview. And, surprisingly, it was hard. To include all major Christian sects I know of I had to make the most general, bland statements: Is the Bible believed by Christians to be written by God or just the sacred book, or, depending on the definition of sacred, the main book? Is sin central, or is love central? Is Jesus God incarnate or just a prophet? Did he actually rise from the dead or are we to understand the story metaphorically? Is that rising what’s centrally important or not?
Perhaps as the subject is narrowed – Catholics instead of Christians – one can be more specific.
But, instead of taking a social group’s worldview I thought that it would be easier and more inkeeping with this blog’s project to describe an individual’s worldview. Since my own is so ready-to-hand I will describe mine. I do this not to convince anyone of it, but as a researcher into one person’s worldview.
(Although one of the characteristics of one's worldviews is, I think, that we think that everything we believe is right, or, the best we can do right now; that no one knowingly holds a wrong view. Although again, I know a guy who doesn't believe the dinosaurs really existed on earth, yet he also knows that science has demonstrated it. Rational people have unusual and contradictory beliefs, some of which beliefs haven't met each other and some which, more interestingly, have and yet are still simultaneously held. In psychology this is called "cognitive dissonance."
What would a worldview look like? How extensive is it? What’s included and what’s not? How coherent is it? Does a worldview contain specific political beliefs or does a worldview describe one’s fundamental orienting categories a la Kant. And yet, even with those basic, orienting, physical, Kantian categories such as space, time and causality, there is philosophical debate about their nature. And there’s also people who have unorthodox – for the Western scientific rationalist – views of them: Jungian synchronicity, action at a distance, astrological effects, shamanistic and psychedelic space and time alterations, etc.
Since it’s a blog, I thought I’d just start describing some aspects of my worldview and reflect upon, and organize it, later. (As opposed to my usual tendency to make it all nice and polished and presentable before anyone sees it.)